To the Fangberry Cave
Now it’s time to finally head over to Fangberry Cave, which will be the last stop on this first expedition. If you’ve been out in the field this entire run, exhaustion may be setting in, and while fatigue is a minor impediment, exhaustion is another matter entirely, being too significant of a drain on a character’s effectiveness to allow for all but the most trivial of tasks. Also, those Fangberries will spoil if too much time is wasted after picking them, so returning to Oleg’s Trading Post immediately afterwards makes good sense.
Exhausted: An exhausted character moves at half speed, cannot charge, and takes a -6 penalty to Strength and Dexterity. After a complete rest, fatigued characters are no longer exhausted. You can also cure exhaustion with a restoration spell or potion.
Return to the road that connects Oleg’s Trading Post and Nettle’s Crossing, and take one of two paths to the east from this road to reach an empty node either to the north or south of Fangberry Cave. From there it should be a simple matter for you to travel in the necessary direction to reach your destination.
Fauna Around the Fangberry Cave
Despite being here for the flora, there’s actually a bit of fauna to contend with in this area. From where you start on the eastern end of the map, head south to find a trio of Young Deer, who will actually respond rather aggressively if attacked. Put them down for their delicious XP and meat, then search a Kobold corpse nearby to acquire some treasure, including a Potion of Cure Light Wounds. Was this critter overwhelmed by those deer? If so, it doesn’t speak too highly of the hunting prowess of Kobolds, eh?
Continue west and you’ll find stronger foes - a pair of Monitor Lizards. While being fairly sturdy, the real threat comes from their venom (DC 11), which can inflict Dexterity damage.
Poison: Some enemies are venomous, and can force you to make saves (usually Fortitude) when they successfully attack to force you to resist the effects of their venom. If you fail, not only will you immediately take ability damage (the type varies by source), but the character will be poisoned. After a set length of time they’ll have to make another save, usually identical to the first, and if they succeed they’ll no longer be poisoned, and will be able to heal any ability damage sustained. If not, they’ll take more ability damage and will remain poisoned. This will continue until they’re cured (by a successful save, spell or potion) or until their ability score reaches 0, which is usually fatal.
Cut down the Monitor Lizards - Jaethal is immune to their poison, and hence makes good bait, if you have her - then loot them for some more meat. Finish up by looting a nearby slab of stone to acquire some trinkets which can be sold, as well as some GP.
Fangs in the Darkness
From where you encountered the Monitor Lizards, continue west until you hit the western edge of the area, then turn north to find the Fangberry Cave, near the northwestern end of the area. Save your game before entering, and spell-buff as best you can (Bless or Bardsong or both will do nicely), then head into the darkness.
The cavern is a bit dark, and although it’s not prohibitively so, it does bring up an opportunity to talk about a wonderful, humble spell: Light. Most casters should have it as a 0-level spell, and it has unlimited castings (although it can only be applied once per caster) and a duration of ten minutes per Caster Level. Yep, a long-lasting, infinitely-resuable, cast-and-forget source of illumination. It’s a simple thing, but welcome, and it won’t be long before it has some serious practical applications - and it’s much more convenient than a torch! Or, you know, you could just use the lantern Valerie came with.
Light up as you wish, then head north and east, deeper into the cavern. Here you’ll find the spiders Bokken mentioned, including a Giant Spider and two Spider Swarms. Giant Spiders are simple enough foes - although their poison can be a nuisance, they’re not otherwise difficult opponents. Spider Swarms, however, can be troublesome, as swarm enemies cannot be killed by conventional tactics. Indeed, smashing a swarm of critters with a mace or sword may kill a few of them, but the majority of the swarm will persist undeterred by such a trivial loss of biomass. They have no mind (although they act collectively), and targeted spells will likewise bear no more fruit than melee or ranged attacks. Not only that, but their method of fighting is unique, as they occupy the space of victims and attack everything they encompass automatically every round. The damage they do is slight, but the poison is more of a nuisance, and since you’re not terribly well-protected by HP at this stage in the game, even minor damage can add up and become a problem.
So how to deal with these pests? Your only viable answer is area of effect attacks. Sadly, those can be in short supply in the early stages of your adventuring career, although an alchemist’s bombs or arcane spellcaster with spells like Burning Hands will be worth their weight in gold here. Failing that, employ the bottles of Alchemist Fire you bought from Bokken and have your characters hurl them at the swarms. One or two direct hits should kill a swarm, which fortunately don’t have many HP, but expect misses and hope for the best from splash damage. When two of these foes have been slain, expect a Giant Spider to spawn to the north, and another Spider Swarm to appear to the south.
Note: This may be a "better part of valor" situation where you might - depending on your party composition and resources - need to delay this quest until later. With some Alchemist Fire, it’s doable at the default difficulty setting, but you’ll be acquiring more firepower shortly.
Defeat them, then loot an unfortunate Kobold to find some treasure, including a Potion of Mage Armor. Finally, take the character with the best [Lore (Nature)] score, save your game, then interact with the Fangberry bushes to the east. These vile bushes didn’t get their name for nothing, and if you fail a [Lore (Nature) 20] they’ll deal damage to the would-be picker. Painfully persevere until you pick your prize, then depart the cave.
|Reward: For obtaining some Fangberries|
Next stop, Oleg’s Trading Post. You’ve got a fair amount of time before those berries spoil - around twenty-four hours, to be precise - but there’s no need to delay, and precious little you can do in that time without risking your hard-picked Fangberries. When you arrive back, talk to Bokken and give him his Fangberries to get your reward and complete this quest.
|Reward: For giving Bokken some Fangberries|
|165 XP / Potion of Restoration, Lesser / Potion of Cure Light Wounds x2|
Sell off any loot you may have obtained (the Emerald from the Waterlogged Lowland sells for 500 GP on its own!) then get some rest at the inn. If you visited Nettle’s Crossing already, it should be uninterrupted sleep. When you’re all rested up and ready for another bout of adventuring, hit the area transition and assemble your party. No sense in putting it off any longer; it’s time to go see what Tartuccio is up to. This is a rather lengthy segment of game that’ll likely require some resting out in the field and/or some trips back to Oleg’s Trading Post before you’re finished, but there are many compelling reasons to prefer this over seeking out the Stag Lord’s goons in Thorn Ford, as you’ll soon see.
Note: Whichever of the two main quests you pursue first - Stolen Land or A Bitter Rival - will affect how the other quest later unfolds. It’s recommended you to go the Ancient Tomb first, for reasons which will soon become clear.